ANN ARBOR, MI — Martin Vloet, owner of the Stadium Club venue that hosted a charity tailgate from 2016-18, will demolish the building on Monday – and he’s created a limited-time mural that will come down with it.
The 30-foot east-facing wall of the building now features five “Cryptopunks” – 8-bit-style characters created in 2017 as one of the first publicly-distributed Non-Fungible Tokens.
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, are collectible assets that allow the trading and sale of encrypted certificates that give the holder ownership of a piece of digital art. The tokens are secured in digital “blockchains” similar to cryptocurrency, which is often used in their purchase and sale. But rather than being interchangeable currency, each token is unique.
The recent NFT phenomenon has propelled the value of the CryptoPunks, originally issued for free to users of the cryptocurrency Etherium, into the millions. On March 11, two of the most valuable Cryptopunks were sold at a Christie’s auction for about 4,200 Etherium tokens each, equivalent to about $7.5 million a piece.
Another piece of NFT artwork at the same auction sold for $69.3 million – the largest sale to date.
Vloet is hoping to capitalize on the phenomenon to convert his decade-long investment in the Stadium Club building into enough spare cash to purchase a new venue that might host the charity tailgate. He’s been in touch with charity organizer Bonnie Dockham, executive director of The Cancer Support Community, on finding another spot in the meantime.
Vloet considered selling the building in 2016, then made plans to develop it as an apartment high-rise with ground floor retail. Those plans were shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now he’s planning to convert the property to an open, outdoor event space.
Vloet plans to film the May 17 demolition of the structure, which has been mostly empty since the charity event ended before the 2019 season. He will include the video, along with a time-lapse of the mural being painted, in the NFT.
Vloet chose the NFT concept, he said, to take advantage of the impermanent nature of the space. He chose the “zombie” characters to keep the variety of paint colors to a minimum and was able to secure discounted colors from PPG Paints in Pittsfield Township. He matched each shade of paint as closely as possible to the RGB color code associated with the colors used in the original files.
From there, he organized a grid of chalk on the wall and sketched the outline of each character on a grid. With no prior mural experience, the 24-pixel-by-24-pixel Cryptopunks were fairly easy to replicate.
The NFT concept allows anyone to make a digital copy of the art involved – but only the owner retains the encrypted certificate.
“Anybody can own a copy of Moby Dick, but if you happen to get your hands on a copy of Herman Melville’s notebook, that’s a different deal,” Vloet said.
More from The Ann Arbor News: